Elk Grove official makes misleading statement about city of Sacramento taxpayer subsidies to Sacramento Zoo

Elk Grove innovations czar Christopher Jordan during the Thursday, April 4 Planning Commission
meeting said there were no meaningful taxpayer subsidies to the Sacramento Zoo. | 

"The business plan also makes it very clear that there is no ongoing operational support necessary to operate the zoo from the city of Elk Grove. There is no subsidy for the project, they are able to make the finances work and carry forward, and that is something they have experience with they do not receive any meaningful support from the city of Sacramento for their existing operations."
Christopher Jordan, city of Elk Grove innovations czar and lead zoo project planner 

The city of Elk Grove's innovation czar, Christopher Jordan, made the statement above during the Thursday, April 4, Elk Grove Planning Commission meeting. Mr. Jordan said those words during a brief presentation he and the city finance manager Matt Paulin gave on the $302 million Sacramento Zoo relocation project (see video below).

The escape clause in Jordan's statement hinges on two words - meaningful and existing. While Jordan is not lying per se, he is not providing a complete picture of the city of Sacramento taxpayer's subsidies over the last decade.

A review of the Sacramento Zoological Society's annual statements and IRS tax forms between 2010 and 2022 reveals that they report receiving city of Sacramento taxpayer subsidies totaling $5.38 million, or $414,079 on an annual average basis. We suspect the SZS would not consider those funds meaningless to their operation.

While it is true that the subsidies have declined, it is noteworthy that the largest amounts came during and immediately after the Great Recession in 2010 and 2011, when they were 10 percent of the revenues. It was not until 2022, when the subsidy dipped to $292,577, that they dropped to two percent of revenues.

See chart below. 

Undoubtedly it's true that the city may not budget a subsidy for the Sacramento Zoological Society once the facility opens, there's a potential risk. Elk Grove, as the bond issuer, is liable if zoo revenue goals are not met and the society cannot cover its bond interest payment. 

This means that the city will have to immediately cover any shortfall, effectively turning that payment into a subsidy if the revenue is not collected. What will happen when zoo revenue falls during the next recession? 

As the financing process continues, it's crucial for taxpayer vigilance. Pay close attention to the words spoken by Mr. Jordan and others. 

We're not suggesting they are lying, but as this example has shown, they may not be providing a complete picture - caveat emptor

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Deejay Blutarsky said...

If you could hypnotize Innovator Jordan and Board Supervisor Hume for just 30 minutes, you'd know exactly where and what will happen in our region for the next 20 years! Their unspoken words are more important than WHAT they say!

Juan Trippe said...

Where I come from, it is called a lie by omission.

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